GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — After two wins to start the Little League World Series, the Greenville North State All Stars have two days off before they play again Wednesday night.
Their last game featured a second no-hitter, which was the first time a team from the United States threw a no-hitter in back-to-back games in Little League World Series history.
The team had batting practice Monday afternoon, and players are confident moving forward.
“We are just trying to be as good as we can be,”shortstop Carson Hardee. “If there is a team that is better than us and they beat us, but we play to the best of our ability, then they deserve to win. But if we play to our ability then I think we are the best team here if we are doing what we need to do.”
North State plays Lufkin, Texas, Wednesday at 7 p.m. The winner goes to Saturday’s U.S. Championship game.
“I think our pitching and defense are on the spot,” said outfielder Drew Fields. “Our hitting has gotten a whole lot better, too. But I think they have their ace, I think he pitches like 70-72 maybe. We just need to speed up the bats, get some hits and I think we will get the win.”
Outfield Cash Daniels-Moye agreed.
“I think we can go really far,” Daniels-Moye said. “I think we can win the world title if we all come together and play as one group.”
Monday was also a day to rest and spend time with family, with some players’ family members coming from all over the country.
“This is awesome man,” said Rudy Matthijs, uncle of Matthew Matthijs who pitches and plays second base for the team.”Playing ball, this is an adult’s dream, a little leaguer’s dream to come here and see your nephew, it’s so surreal,”
For Rudy Matthijs, it’s a chance to see his nephew play for the first time in quite a while.
“Last time I saw him play in person was when he was 8,” said Rudy Matthijs. “Eight years old. I knew he was good. I watched some videos of him last year and now this year. To see where he is now, it’s unbelievable.”
Rudy could have stayed at his home in New Jersey and watched on television but decided to attend in person instead. It means a lot to Matthew Matthijs.
“We haven’t seen him in a while and now they get to see us play on the big stage,” said Matthew Matthijs. “We don’t see them much because we’re always playing baseball. And now they live close to here so they can come watch.”
Rudy Matthijs will get more chances to see his nephew play this week and win or lose, he’s excited about the memories Matthew and his teammates are making.
“Well, I think they have a great outcome,” said Rudy Matthijs. “I mean this is a lifelong experience. I don’t think they understand it yet. Just the whole experience they’re having here. Hopefully, they get to focus on playing ball and that’s it. At the end of the day, meeting the other kids and growing and learning is the best thing for them.”
Riley Byrne, the sister of third baseman Joe Joe Byrne, said she knows how important is it for the team to see so many familiar faces.
“It means a lot to the kids. Joe Joe was talking to me before he left, he said, ‘Riley, everybody in Greenville tells me they’re coming up here.'” said Riley Byrne. “Three of his best friends are here. And so it’s just a great experience for all the boys to know they have a lot of people to back them up instead of just their families.”
Monday also marked a special occasion.
North State manager Briann Field’s celebrated his 43rd birthday with the team Monday afternoon at a downtown Williamsport restaurant.
Then, along with just about everyone else in the country, they headed outside for the eclipse.